AAA Warns Drivers to Avoid Distractions While Behind the Wheel

In recognition of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, AAA is warning drivers to avoid any activities that divert attention from the primary driving task. Any distractions could endanger a driver, passengers, or others sharing the road, such as bicyclists or pedestrians.

In a recent AAA survey among registered voters in The Auto Club Group territory (general population in North Dakota), their number one concern in regards to keeping the roadways safer was Distracted Driving (78%) followed by Impaired Driving (73%) and Aggressive Drivers (63%).

“While we’ve made substantial progress in the past few years by raising awareness about risky driving behaviors, the simple fact is that distraction continues to be a significant contributing factor to deaths and injuries on our roadways,” said AAA Traffic Safety manager, John Pecchio. “We all should take personal responsibility for focusing on driving rather than on dangerous distractions.”

Distractions are responsible for vehicle crashes leading to an estimated 3,154 deaths and 424,000 injuries in police-reported crashes in which one form of distraction was noted on the crash report in 2013, according to the most recent data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Driving distractions come in all forms. A few examples are:

The use of electronic devices are among the most well-known and common sources of distraction for drivers. Text messaging behind the wheel is one of the riskiest things a driver can do as it involves manual, visual, and mental distraction simultaneously. Any kind of cell phone use can be risky. There is a public misperception that using a hands-free cell phone reduces risk but research states otherwise.  “The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety completed groundbreaking research last year finding that mental distraction by itself dangerously affects drivers behind the wheel,” said Pecchio.  “The research showed that hands-free features, increasingly common in new vehicles, are actually among the most mentally distracting. Just because a drivers’ eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel does not mean that they are safely focusing on driving.”

Here are AAA’s top 10 tips to avoid distractions while driving

10. Fully focus on driving: Do not let anything divert your attention. Actively scan the road, use your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

09. Store loose gear: Possessions and other distractions could roll around in the car and you won’t feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat.

08. Make adjustments before your drive: Address vehicle systems like your GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.

07. Finish dressing and personal grooming at home: Before you get on the road.

06. Snack smart: If possible, eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving. On the road, avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.

05. Secure children and pets before getting underway: If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching into the backseat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

04. Don’t use cell phones while driving: Handheld or hands-free – except in absolute emergencies. Never use text messaging, email functions, video games or the internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.

03. Ask for help: If you have passengers, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving.

02. Pull over: If another activity demands your attention, instead of trying to attempt it while driving, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place. To avoid temptation, power down or stow devices before heading out.

01. As a general rule, if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it’s a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel.
The 2015 AAA Public Affairs Surveys were conducted online among registered voters in ACG territory (general population in North Dakota). A total of 6,075 residents completed the survey. The survey has a maximum margin of error of ± 1.3 percentage points. State responses are weighted by gender and age to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in ACG territory.

About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.

Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

 


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